The Destructive Power of EF-5 Tornadoes: A Look at the Rarest and Most Devastating Twisters

The rarity of EF-5 tornadoes can be attributed to the specific atmospheric conditions required for their formation. These conditions include a combination of strong wind shear, instability, and moisture. The presence of a strong, persistent updraft is also crucial in allowing the tornado to maintain its intensity and reach EF-5 status.

Here are the last five EF-5 tornadoes recorded in the United States:

  1. Moore, Oklahoma (May 20, 2013): This devastating tornado tragically resulted in 24 fatalities and injured 210 people. The estimated population of Moore at the time was around 55,000.
  2. Joplin, Missouri (May 22, 2011): This catastrophic tornado caused immense destruction, claiming the lives of 158 people and injuring over 1,000. Joplin’s population was approximately 50,000 at the time.
  3. Parkersburg, Kansas (May 4, 2007): This powerful tornado resulted in significant damage and tragically took the lives of 11 people. The estimated population of Parkersburg was around 1,400.
  4. Greensburgh, Kansas (May 4, 2007): On the same day as the Parkersburg tornado, Greensburg was struck by another devastating EF5. The town was almost completely destroyed, with 11 fatalities reported. Greensburg’s population was approximately 1,500.
  5. Bridge Creek-Moore, Oklahoma (May 3, 1999): This intense tornado, part of a larger outbreak, caused widespread damage and resulted in 36 fatalities. The combined population of Bridge Creek and Moore was around 41,000 at the time.

The El Reno tornado is an example of a tornado exhibiting higher wind speeds than those indicated by the damage-based Enhanced Fujita (EF) Scale rating. In fact, there have been several instances where mobile Doppler radar or close-range dual-polarization (dual-pol) radar data have suggested wind speeds exceeding the EF Scale rating.

For example, the Chickasha, Oklahoma tornado of May 24, 2011, was rated as an EF-4 based on damage surveys. However, mobile Doppler radar data indicated wind speeds of up to 288 mph (463 km/h), which would have classified it as an EF-5. Similarly, the Tipton, Oklahoma tornado of May 16, 2015, was rated as an EF-3, but mobile radar data suggested wind speeds of up to 247 mph (398 km/h), putting it in the EF-5 range.

These discrepancies between damage-based ratings and radar-measured wind speeds highlight the limitations of the current EF Scale and the need for a more comprehensive approach to tornado intensity classification. By incorporating mobile and close-range dual-pol radar data, scientists and meteorologists could gain a more accurate understanding of a tornado’s true intensity and potential for damage.

It is worth noting that the Enhanced Fujita (EF) Scale, introduced in 2007, is an updated version of the original Fujita (F) Scale, which was developed by Dr. Theodore Fujita in 1971. The original F Scale was based on the damage caused by tornadoes to structures and vegetation, with ratings ranging from F0 to F5. However, the F Scale had some limitations, such as its subjective nature and the fact that it did not account for differences in building construction and materials.

The EF Scale was developed to address these limitations and provide a more consistent and objective approach to tornado intensity classification. The EF Scale still uses damage surveys as the primary basis for ratings, but it also takes into account the quality of construction and the types of materials used in structures. Additionally, the wind speed ranges for each EF rating were adjusted based on the latest scientific understanding of the relationship between wind speeds and damage.

Despite these improvements, the EF Scale still relies heavily on post-event damage surveys, which can be affected by factors such as the availability of damage indicators and the experience of the survey team. Incorporating mobile and close-range dual-pol radar data into the EF Scale could help to overcome these limitations and provide a more comprehensive and accurate assessment of tornado intensity.

The impact of EF-5 tornadoes on communities is devastating, with long-lasting effects on infrastructure, economy, and the lives of those affected. The high death tolls associated with these tornadoes can be attributed to the extreme wind speeds, the amount of debris generated, and the difficulty in providing adequate warning and shelter.

Advancements in tornado forecasting and warning systems have helped to reduce the loss of life from EF-5 tornadoes in recent years. However, the destructive power of these rare twisters remains a significant threat to life and property. Continued research into the formation and behavior of EF-5 tornadoes is crucial in improving our understanding and ability to mitigate their impact on communities.

Unraveling the Secrets of Severe Weather: The Supercell Composite Parameter and Its Vital Role in Forecasting

In the world of meteorology, forecasting severe weather events is a complex and challenging task. To help predict the likelihood of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes, meteorologists rely on various tools and indices. One such tool is the Supercell Composite Parameter (SCP), a powerful indicator that combines multiple atmospheric variables to assess the potential for supercell thunderstorm development. In this article, we will dive deep into the Supercell Composite Parameter, exploring its components, its significance in severe weather forecasting, and how it helps protect lives and property.

Understanding Supercell Thunderstorms: Before delving into the Supercell Composite Parameter, it’s essential to understand what supercell thunderstorms are and why they are so dangerous. Supercell thunderstorms are highly organized, rotating storms that can produce severe weather hazards such as large hail, damaging winds, and tornadoes. These storms are characterized by a persistent rotating updraft called a mesocyclone, which allows them to maintain their intensity for extended periods. Supercell thunderstorms are responsible for some of the most destructive and deadly severe weather events in history, making their accurate prediction a top priority for meteorologists.

The Components of the Supercell Composite Parameter: The Supercell Composite Parameter is a mathematical formula that combines several key atmospheric variables to assess the potential for supercell thunderstorm development. The main components of the SCP are:

  1. Convective Available Potential Energy (CAPE): CAPE is a measure of the atmospheric instability, representing the amount of energy available for thunderstorm development. Higher CAPE values indicate a greater potential for strong updrafts and severe weather.
  2. Storm-Relative Helicity (SRH): SRH is a measure of the wind shear in the lower atmosphere, which is crucial for the formation of rotating updrafts in supercell thunderstorms. Higher SRH values suggest a greater likelihood of mesocyclone development and tornado potential.
  3. Bulk Wind Difference (BWD): BWD represents the change in wind speed and direction with height, another important factor in supercell development. Strong wind shear, as indicated by high BWD values, helps to create an environment conducive to supercell formation.
  4. Lifting Condensation Level (LCL): The LCL is the height at which air becomes saturated and condensation begins, leading to cloud formation. Lower LCL heights are associated with a greater potential for tornadoes, as they allow for a more concentrated and intense rotation near the ground.

The SCP formula combines these variables in a specific way to create a single value that represents the overall potential for supercell thunderstorm development. Higher SCP values indicate a greater risk of severe weather, particularly supercell thunderstorms and tornadoes.

The Significance of the Supercell Composite Parameter in Severe Weather Forecasting: The Supercell Composite Parameter is a crucial tool for meteorologists in their efforts to predict and warn the public about severe weather events. By analyzing SCP values, forecasters can identify areas where the atmospheric conditions are most favorable for supercell thunderstorm development. This information allows them to issue timely and accurate severe weather watches and warnings, giving people in affected areas the opportunity to take necessary precautions and seek shelter.

One of the key advantages of the SCP is its ability to provide a comprehensive assessment of the severe weather potential. By combining multiple atmospheric variables into a single value, the SCP offers a more holistic view of the overall risk, rather than relying on individual factors alone. This approach helps to reduce the likelihood of false alarms or missed events, improving the overall accuracy and reliability of severe weather forecasts.

Real-World Applications and Success Stories: The Supercell Composite Parameter has proven its value in numerous real-world severe weather events. Meteorologists have successfully used the SCP to anticipate and warn the public about impending supercell thunderstorms and tornadoes, saving countless lives and minimizing property damage.

For example, during the devastating tornado outbreak of April 27, 2011, which affected multiple states in the southeastern United States, the SCP played a crucial role in the forecasting process. Meteorologists recognized the extremely high SCP values across the region, indicating an exceptionally high risk of violent, long-track tornadoes. This information allowed forecasters to issue strongly worded warnings and urge people to take immediate action to protect themselves. While the outbreak still resulted in significant damage and loss of life, the accurate and timely warnings based on the SCP undoubtedly saved many lives.

Similarly, during the May 20, 2013, tornado outbreak in central Oklahoma, the SCP once again demonstrated its value. Forecasters identified the high SCP values in the region, suggesting a significant risk of strong to violent tornadoes. The warnings issued based on this information allowed people to seek shelter and prepare for the impending severe weather. The accurate forecasting and timely warnings were credited with saving numerous lives, even as the powerful tornadoes caused extensive damage.

Limitations and Ongoing Research: While the Supercell Composite Parameter is a valuable tool in severe weather forecasting, it is not without its limitations. The SCP is designed specifically to assess the potential for supercell thunderstorm development and does not account for other types of severe weather, such as non-supercell tornadoes or severe wind events. Additionally, the SCP is based on atmospheric conditions at a specific time and location and may not capture the full evolution of a severe weather event over time.

To address these limitations and further improve severe weather forecasting, ongoing research is focused on refining the SCP and developing new tools and techniques. Meteorologists and atmospheric scientists are working to incorporate additional variables, such as high-resolution radar data and machine learning algorithms, to enhance the accuracy and lead time of severe weather predictions.

One area of active research is the development of probabilistic forecasting methods that provide a range of possible outcomes based on the uncertainty in the atmospheric conditions. By presenting severe weather forecasts in terms of probabilities, meteorologists can better communicate the level of risk to the public and support more informed decision-making.

Reed Timmer: The Story of an Extreme Storm Chaser

Reed Timmer: The life of a storm chaser

Reed Timmer is a renowned meteorologist and extreme storm chaser who has dedicated his life to studying and documenting severe weather events. Born on March 17, 1980, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Timmer developed a fascination with weather at a young age. He pursued his passion by earning a B.S. in Meteorology from the University of Oklahoma in 2002 and later obtained his Ph.D. in Meteorology from the same institution in 2015.

Timmer’s storm chasing career began in 1999 when he joined the University of Oklahoma’s storm chasing team. He quickly gained notoriety for his fearless approach to intercepting tornadoes and hurricanes, often placing himself in harm’s way to gather valuable data and capture stunning footage.

Timmer’s research focuses on collecting valuable data from within the heart of severe storms using state-of-the-art instruments, such as mobile tornado probes. By gathering this data, he has helped improve tornado forecasting and warning systems, ultimately saving lives and property. His innovative approach to storm chasing led him to design and build a series of armored vehicles called “Dominators,” which allow him and his team to safely navigate through the most intense weather conditions.

In addition to his scientific contributions, Timmer has played a significant role in educating the public about severe weather and storm safety. He has been featured in numerous television shows and documentaries, including “Storm Chasers” on the Discovery Channel and “Extreme Weather” on National Geographic. These appearances have helped raise awareness about the dangers of severe weather and the importance of being prepared.

Timmer’s commitment to education extends beyond the media. He frequently gives presentations at schools, universities, and community events, sharing his knowledge and experiences with audiences of all ages. His engaging and informative talks inspire future generations of meteorologists and emphasize the critical role that storm safety plays in protecting communities.

Beyond his research and educational efforts, Timmer has also ventured into entrepreneurship. He founded TVN Weather, a company that provides live severe weather video content to media outlets, allowing viewers to witness the power and beauty of extreme weather events from the safety of their homes. Additionally, he established SRV Dominator, which offers storm chasing tours and experiences to the public, giving individuals a unique opportunity to learn about severe weather firsthand.

In 2008, Timmer became a featured meteorologist on the Discovery Channel’s reality television series “Storm Chasers.” The show followed Timmer and his team as they pursued severe weather events across the United States. During his time on the show, Timmer showcased his expertise and innovative storm chasing techniques, including the use of armored vehicles like the “Dominator” to safely navigate through dangerous conditions.

Throughout his career, Timmer has witnessed and documented over 1,000 tornadoes and numerous hurricanes, including Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Hurricane Harvey in 2017. His up-close footage of these powerful storms has provided valuable insights for the scientific community and has helped raise public awareness about the dangers of severe weather.

In addition to his storm chasing endeavors, Timmer is also an accomplished researcher. His doctoral thesis focused on the study of tornadoes and their environments using high-resolution radar data. Timmer’s research has contributed to a better understanding of tornado formation and has the potential to improve tornado warning systems.

As an educator, Timmer has taught meteorology courses at the University of Oklahoma and has been a guest lecturer at numerous universities and conferences worldwide. He is also the author of the book “Into the Storm: Violent Tornadoes, Killer Hurricanes, and Death-Defying Adventures in Extreme Weather,” which chronicles his experiences as a storm chaser and meteorologist.

Reed Timmer’s dedication to studying and documenting severe weather events has made him one of the most respected and well-known figures in the field of meteorology. His work has not only advanced our understanding of these powerful natural phenomena but has also helped to save lives by providing valuable information to the public and emergency management officials.

20 Game-Changing Weather Apps You Can’t Afford to Miss

In today’s world, being prepared for changing weather conditions is crucial. Fortunately, there are numerous weather apps available that can help you stay informed and safe. Here are 20 game-changing weather apps you can’t afford to miss:

Dark Sky
This app is known for its accurate hyperlocal forecasts and beautiful radar maps. It provides down-to-the-minute updates and alerts for precipitation, temperature, and severe weather events, making it a reliable choice for staying on top of changing weather conditions.

Hail No
Defend yourself from hailstorms with Hail No, the first hail app to provide real-time tracking and alert notifications. See where the hail is, create a defensive radius around any location, and get automatic alerts. Hail No provides access to the National Severe Storms Laboratory hail algorithm, the most accurate available,
ensuring you’re always aware of potential hail threats.

WeatherBug is a comprehensive weather app that offers real-time weather data, radar maps, and severe weather alerts. It also includes features like pollen and air quality forecasts, making it a great choice for those with allergies or respiratory issues. Stay informed about changing weather conditions and potential health impacts with WeatherBug.

Tornado Vision
See severe weather with augmented reality! Tornado Vision can help you see tornadoes hiding in the rain or at night. Simply point your phone at any severe storm, and you’ll get a heads-up display on what is happening inside the storm. This groundbreaking weather technology provides information on the chance of a tornado, hail size, wind speed, and more, right on your screen.

Designed for weather enthusiasts and professionals, RadarScope is a powerful radar app that provides high-resolution radar data, storm tracking, and advanced analysis tools. Dive deep into weather data and gain a comprehensive understanding of weather patterns with this feature-rich app.

Predict Now
Predict Now is a powerful weather app that provides hyperlocal forecasts and real-time alerts for severe weather events. With its user-friendly interface and advanced features, you can stay ahead of the game and plan your activities accordingly, ensuring you’re always prepared for changing weather conditions.

NOAA Weather Radar Live
This free app provides access to real-time weather radar data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Stay informed about severe weather events in your area with up-to-date radar information from a trusted source.

Weather Underground
Weather Underground is a comprehensive weather app that offers hyperlocal forecasts, radar maps, and severe weather alerts. It also includes a community feature that allows users to share weather observations and photos, creating a collaborative weather-tracking experience.

AccuWeather is a popular weather app known for its accurate forecasts and user-friendly interface. It provides detailed weather information, including hourly and daily forecasts, radar maps, and severe weather alerts, ensuring you have all the information you need to plan your day.

The Weather Channel
The Weather Channel app is a reliable source for weather information, offering forecasts, radar maps, and severe weather alerts. It also includes features like hurricane tracking and ski resort conditions, making it a versatile choice for various weather-related activities.

Clime: NOAA Weather Radar
Clime: NOAA Weather Radar is a free app that provides access to real-time weather radar data from NOAA. Stay informed about severe weather events in your area with this simple yet effective app.

MyRadar Weather Radar
MyRadar Weather Radar is a powerful app that offers high-resolution radar data, severe weather alerts, and customizable settings. Tailor the app to your specific needs and get a detailed view of weather conditions in your area.

Windy is a unique weather app that focuses on wind forecasts and patterns. It provides detailed wind maps, as well as forecasts for temperature, precipitation, and other weather conditions, making it an excellent choice for outdoor enthusiasts and those interested in wind-related activities.

Weather Mate
Weather Mate is a comprehensive weather app that offers hyperlocal forecasts, radar maps, and severe weather alerts. It also includes features like air quality and pollen forecasts, making it a great choice for those with allergies or respiratory issues. Stay informed about weather conditions and potential health impacts with this all-in-one app.

Carrot Weather
Carrot Weather is a unique weather app that combines accurate forecasts with a quirky and humorous personality. It provides detailed weather information, including hourly and daily forecasts, radar maps, and severe weather alerts, all delivered with a touch of humor to make weather tracking more enjoyable.

Storm Radar
Storm Radar is a powerful app that provides real-time radar data, severe weather alerts, and storm tracking capabilities. Stay informed about severe weather events in your area and track storms with this comprehensive app.

Weather Live
Weather Live is a comprehensive weather app that offers hyperlocal forecasts, radar maps, and severe weather alerts. It also includes features like air quality and pollen forecasts, making it a great choice for those with allergies or respiratory issues. Stay informed about weather conditions and potential health impacts with this versatile app.

Flowx is a unique weather app that focuses on visualizing weather patterns and forecasts. It provides detailed weather information, including wind patterns, precipitation, and temperature, in a visually stunning format, making it an excellent choice for those who appreciate beautiful data visualization.

Weather Maps
Weather Maps is a powerful app that provides detailed weather maps and forecasts for various weather conditions, including precipitation, temperature, wind, and more. Get a comprehensive view of weather patterns with this data-rich app.

Weather Radar by ICM
Weather Radar by ICM is a free app that provides access to real-time weather radar data from various sources, including NOAA and Environment Canada. Stay informed about severe weather events in your area with this simple yet effective app.

Storm Chasing in Canada: Tracking Nature’s Fury

Canada, known for its diverse landscapes and vast expanses, is also home to a unique meteorological phenomenon – severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. While storm chasing is more commonly associated with the United States, particularly in the infamous “Tornado Alley,” Canada experiences its fair share of severe weather events, attracting both professional meteorologists and amateur storm chasers.

Meteorology Behind Canadian Storm Chasing The formation of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes in Canada is primarily influenced by the collision of contrasting air masses. During the summer months, warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico and the United States Great Plains often clashes with cooler, drier air from the Arctic. This collision creates instability in the atmosphere, leading to the development of powerful supercell thunderstorms.

Additionally, Canada’s unique topography plays a role in storm formation. The prairies, with their flat, open landscapes, allow for uninterrupted wind flow and the creation of strong updrafts necessary for tornado development. The presence of the Rocky Mountains to the west also contributes to the formation of severe weather, as the mountains can help channel and intensify storm systems.

Prime Storm Chasing Locations in Canada

  1. Southern Ontario: This region, particularly the area extending from Windsor to Toronto, experiences the highest frequency of tornadoes in Canada. The proximity to the Great Lakes and the convergence of air masses make this area a hotspot for severe weather.
  2. Alberta: Known as “Hailstorm Alley,” central and southern Alberta often experience severe thunderstorms capable of producing large hail, damaging winds, and occasional tornadoes. Cities like Calgary and Red Deer are prime locations for storm chasers.
  3. Saskatchewan: The southern portions of Saskatchewan, especially along the border with the United States, are prone to severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. The flat, open prairies provide an ideal environment for storm development.
  4. Manitoba: Similar to Saskatchewan, southern Manitoba experiences severe weather due to its location and topography. The Red River Valley, in particular, is a corridor for intense storm systems.

Tornado Statistics by Province According to Environment and Climate Change Canada, the average number of reported tornadoes per year in each province is as follows:

  1. Ontario: 12-18
  2. Alberta: 10-15
  3. Saskatchewan: 8-12
  4. Manitoba: 6-10
  5. Quebec: 4-8
  6. New Brunswick: 1-2
  7. British Columbia: 0-1
  8. Nova Scotia: 0-1
  9. Prince Edward Island: 0-1
  10. Newfoundland and Labrador: 0-1

It is important to note that these numbers are based on reported tornadoes and may not reflect the actual occurrence, as some tornadoes in remote areas may go undetected.

Storm chasing in Canada is a thrilling and scientifically valuable pursuit, but it also comes with inherent risks. Chasers must be well-prepared, equipped with proper safety gear, and knowledgeable about severe weather dynamics. It is crucial to respect the power of nature and prioritize personal safety above all else.

As climate change continues to influence weather patterns worldwide, studying severe weather events in Canada becomes increasingly important.

Top 5 Weather Events in Canada

Edmonton Tornado (July 31, 1987)
Also known as “Black Friday,” this devastating F4 tornado struck eastern Edmonton, Alberta, causing 27 fatalities, injuring over 300 people, and resulting in an estimated $330 million in damages (adjusted for inflation). It remains the deadliest tornado in Canadian history and one of the most destructive in terms of property damage.

Pine Lake Tornado (July 14, 2000)
An F3 tornado touched down near Pine Lake, a popular camping area in central Alberta, claiming 12 lives and injuring over 100 people. The tornado caused widespread damage to the Green Acres Campground, destroying numerous trailers and vehicles. It is the second-deadliest tornado in Canadian history.

Windsor – Tecumseh, Ontario Tornado (June 17, 1946)
This powerful F4 tornado struck the towns of Windsor and Tecumseh in southwestern Ontario, causing 17 fatalities and over 200 injuries. It remains the third-deadliest tornado in Canadian history and caused significant damage to residential areas and infrastructure.

Calgary Hailstorm (June 13, 2020)
A severe thunderstorm produced large hail over Calgary, Alberta, causing an estimated $1.2 billion in insured damages, making it the fourth-costliest natural disaster in Canadian history. The hailstorm damaged numerous homes, vehicles, and buildings across the city.

Southern Ontario Derecho (May 21, 2022)
A powerful derecho, a widespread and long-lived windstorm associated with a line of severe thunderstorms, swept across southern Ontario, causing significant damage and power outages. The storm resulted in 10 fatalities and affected major cities such as Toronto, Ottawa, and London. Wind gusts exceeding 120 km/h were recorded, and the event is considered one of the most impactful derechos in Canadian history.

Well-known Storm Chasers in Canada:

Mark Robinson: A meteorologist and storm chaser based in Ontario, Robinson is the founder of The Weather Network’s “Storm Hunters” team. He has been chasing storms across Canada and the United States for over two decades.

Greg Johnson: Known as “Tornado Hunter,” Johnson is a Saskatchewan-based storm chaser and photographer who has been documenting severe weather events for more than 20 years. His work has been featured in numerous publications and documentaries.

Justin Hobson: A storm chaser and photographer based in Alberta, Hobson is known for his stunning images of severe weather events across the Canadian Prairies.

Weather Radar Network and Forecast Models:
Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) operates the Canadian weather radar network, which consists of 31 Doppler radars across the country. These radars provide real-time data on precipitation intensity, wind velocity, and storm structure, aiding in the detection and tracking of severe weather events.
ECCC also utilizes several forecast models to predict weather patterns and severe weather potential:

Global Environmental Multiscale (GEM) Model: This is the primary forecast model used by ECCC, providing short-range and medium-range weather forecasts for Canada and the world.
High Resolution Deterministic Prediction System (HRDPS): A high-resolution model that provides detailed short-range forecasts for specific regions in Canada, focusing on severe weather events.
Canadian Precipitation Analysis (CaPA): A system that combines radar, satellite, and surface observations to provide a comprehensive analysis of precipitation across Canada.


Environment and Climate Change Canada Weather Radar:
Canadian Centre for Meteorological and Environmental Prediction:
The Weather Network Storm Hunters:
Greg Johnson Tornado Hunter:
Justin Hobson Photography:

Choosing the Best Tornado Tour Company: A Guide for New Storm Chasers

If you’re an adventurous soul looking to witness the raw power of nature up close, a tornado tour might be just the thrill you’re seeking. However, with numerous companies offering storm chasing experiences, it’s important to choose a reputable and experienced outfit to ensure your safety and satisfaction. We’ll guide you through the process of selecting the best tornado tour company and provide a list of well-known operators along with their website addresses.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Tornado Tour Company:

  1. Experience and expertise: Look for companies with experienced guides who have a proven track record of successfully navigating severe weather conditions. Ensure that the guides are knowledgeable about meteorology and have the necessary skills to keep you safe.
  2. Safety measures: Your chosen company should prioritize safety above all else. Inquire about their safety protocols, emergency procedures, and the equipment they use to monitor and track storms.
  3. Group size: Smaller group sizes often lead to a more personalized experience and better access to the guides. Consider the company’s maximum group size and whether it aligns with your preferences.
  4. Tour duration and itinerary: Tornado tours can vary in length from a single day to a week or more. Consider your availability and the specific areas you’d like to explore when choosing a tour duration and itinerary.
  5. Reviews and testimonials: Read reviews and testimonials from previous clients to gauge the company’s reputation and the quality of their tours. Look for consistent positive feedback and how the company responds to any negative reviews.

Top Tornado Tour Companies:

1.Tempest Tours
Tempest Tours has been offering storm chasing expeditions since 2000 and is known for their experienced guides and commitment to safety.

    2. Silver Lining Tours
    With over 20 years of experience, Silver Lining Tours provides educational and thrilling storm chasing adventures across Tornado Alley.

      3. Storm Chasing Adventure Tours
      Storm Chasing Adventure Tours offers a variety of tour options, from single-day excursions to week-long expeditions, led by experienced meteorologists and storm chasers.

        4. Extreme Tornado Tours
        Extreme Tornado Tours specializes in small-group tours led by seasoned storm chasers, ensuring a personalized and immersive experience.

          5. Cloud 9 Tours
          Cloud 9 Tours offers both storm chasing and photography-focused tours, catering to those who want to capture the beauty and power of severe weather.

            Storm chasing tornado tours offer a unique and exhilarating experience for thrill-seekers and weather enthusiasts alike. These guided adventures take participants on a journey into the heart of Tornado Alley, where they witness the awe-inspiring power of nature firsthand. Experienced storm chasers lead the tours, using their expertise in meteorology and forecasting to navigate the group towards active storms. Participants can expect to spend long hours on the road, tracking weather patterns and chasing down potential tornado outbreaks. When a tornado does form, the rush of adrenaline is unparalleled as the group carefully positions themselves at a safe distance to observe the twisting vortex.

            However, storm chasing is not without its risks. Tornadoes are unpredictable and can change course or intensify rapidly, putting chasers in danger if they are not careful. Flying debris, hail, and strong winds can also pose a threat to safety. Storm chasing tour companies prioritize the well-being of their clients, but participants must be aware of the inherent dangers and follow instructions closely. Choose a reputable company with experienced guides who prioritize safety above all else. Participants should also be prepared for the physical demands of the tour, as it often involves long periods of driving and potentially rough terrain. Storm chasing is endless driving and sometimes you won’t see much so you have to be prepared to be on the road for up to 10 days.

            Despite the risks, the benefits of a storm chasing tornado tour are significant for those who crave adventure and have a deep appreciation for the power of nature. Witnessing a tornado up close is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that few people have the opportunity to enjoy. Storm chasing tours provide a controlled environment for this experience, with knowledgeable guides who can help participants understand the science behind the storms. Additionally, the tours often foster a sense of camaraderie among participants, as they bond over their shared passion for weather and adventure. For many, the thrill of the chase and the incredible photographs and memories they capture make the risks worthwhile.

            The Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Storm Chaser

            Storm chasing demands more than just a sense of adventure; it requires a solid foundation in meteorology. This section equips aspiring chasers with the essential knowledge to understand the weather phenomena they’ll encounter.

            Demystifying the Atmosphere:

            • Atmospheric Layers: Our atmosphere isn’t a uniform blanket; it’s layered. The troposphere, closest to the Earth, is where most weather happens due to its temperature and pressure variations. Above it lies the stratosphere, home to the ozone layer, and beyond that, further layers with decreasing air density. Understanding these layers helps grasp how weather systems form and move.
            • Atmospheric Pressure: Air pressure, the weight of the air above us, is a key weather driver. High-pressure systems generally bring fair weather, while low-pressure systems often lead to clouds and precipitation. The interaction between these systems generates wind, and their movement dictates weather patterns.
            • Temperature and Moisture: These two factors are critical for storm formation. Warm, moist air is less dense and tends to rise, creating instability. As it rises, it cools and condenses, forming clouds and potentially precipitation. The amount of moisture in the air, known as humidity, influences how much energy is available for storms to develop.

            Decoding Thunderstorms:

            • Thunderstorm Recipe: Thunderstorms need four key ingredients: instability (warm, moist air near the surface and cooler air aloft), lift (a mechanism to force air upwards), moisture (fuel for cloud and rain formation), and wind shear (changing wind speed and direction with height, which helps storms organize and sustain themselves).
            • Thunderstorm Varieties: Not all thunderstorms are created equal. Single-cell storms are brief and isolated, while multi-cell storms are clusters of cells that can produce heavy rain, hail, and strong winds. Supercells, the most intense type, have a rotating updraft and can spawn tornadoes, large hail, and damaging winds.
            • Thunderstorm Anatomy: Visualize a thunderstorm as a towering engine. The updraft is the rising column of warm, moist air that fuels the storm. The downdraft is the cool air and precipitation descending from the storm. The anvil cloud is the flat, spreading top of the storm, and the flanking line is a line of developing cells feeding into the main updraft. Recognizing these features helps assess a storm’s stage and potential severity.

            Tornado Genesis:

            • Supercells and Tornadoes: While not all supercells produce tornadoes, most significant tornadoes come from them. Look for a rotating wall cloud, a lowered area of the storm base with persistent rotation, as a sign that a tornado might form.
            • Tornado Life Cycle: A tornado starts as a funnel cloud extending from the storm base. As it reaches the ground, it becomes a tornado. The mature stage is when the tornado is at its strongest, and it eventually dissipates as the storm weakens or the updraft loses its rotation.
            • Tornado Intensity Scale: The Enhanced Fujita (EF) scale rates tornadoes from EF0 (weakest) to EF5 (strongest) based on the damage they cause. Understanding this scale helps assess the potential danger and provides a common language for describing tornado intensity.

            Tools of the Trade:

            • Weather Radar and Satellite Imagery: Radar shows precipitation intensity, storm structure, and rotation, while satellite imagery provides a broader view of cloud patterns and storm systems. Look for hook echoes on radar, a telltale sign of a rotating mesocyclone, and towering cumulonimbus clouds on satellite images, indicating strong updrafts and potential severe weather.
            • Surface Observations and Weather Maps: Analyze surface observations to identify areas of converging winds, temperature and dew point spreads, and pressure falls, all of which can signal storm development. Weather maps depicting fronts, pressure systems, and wind patterns help predict where storms are likely to form and track.
            • Storm Spotter Reports: Trained storm spotters provide real-time ground truth of hail size, wind damage, and tornado sightings. These reports are invaluable for confirming radar-indicated threats and providing situational awareness during a chase.

            With a foundational understanding of meteorology, you’re ready to delve into the practical aspects of storm chasing. This section will guide you through the steps involved in planning and executing a safe and successful storm chase.

            Preparation is Key:

            • Target Selection: Based on the meteorological factors discussed in Section 1, identify a target area with a high probability of severe weather development. Utilize forecasting tools such as weather models, radar imagery, and surface observations to pinpoint potential hotspots for thunderstorm and tornado formation.
            • Route Planning: Plan your route carefully, considering road networks, potential escape routes, and areas with good visibility of the sky. Be aware of potential hazards such as low-lying areas prone to flooding, and avoid chasing in urban areas where visibility and maneuverability are limited.
            • Vehicle and Equipment: Ensure your vehicle is reliable and in good condition, with a full tank of gas. Essential equipment includes a GPS navigation system, a laptop or tablet with internet access for real-time weather data, a two-way radio for communication, and a camera for documentation.
            • Safety First: Chasing storms inherently involves risks. Always prioritize your safety and the safety of others. Have a plan for seeking shelter in case of a tornado warning, and be aware of lightning dangers. Never attempt to outrun a tornado or drive through flooded roadways.

            The Chase is On:

            • Positioning: Once you’ve reached your target area, position yourself for optimal viewing and intercept of the developing storms. Look for visual cues such as towering cumulonimbus clouds, rotating wall clouds, and inflow bands (lines of clouds feeding into the storm).
            • Visual Observations: While radar and other technological tools are valuable, visual observations remain crucial. Pay attention to the storm’s structure, movement, and any signs of rotation or tornado development.
            • Communication and Collaboration: Maintain communication with other chasers or spotters in the area to share information and coordinate observations. Collaboration enhances situational awareness and helps ensure safety during the chase.
            • Documentation: If conditions allow, document the storm’s evolution through photos and videos. This documentation serves as a valuable record of the event and can contribute to scientific research and understanding of severe weather.

            Ethics and Responsibility:

            • Respect Private Property: Always seek permission before entering private property. Avoid blocking roadways or interfering with emergency responders.
            • Minimize Environmental Impact: Leave no trace of your presence. Dispose of waste properly and avoid disturbing wildlife or vegetation.
            • Responsible Reporting: If you witness a tornado or other severe weather event, report it to the National Weather Service or local authorities to ensure timely warnings are issued.

            Staying ahead of the storm requires access to reliable weather data and forecasting tools. Here’s a list of websites and apps that will empower your storm chasing endeavors:

            Government and Official Sources:

            • National Weather Service ( The cornerstone of weather information, the NWS provides forecasts, warnings, and radar data for the entire United States. Check local forecasts, severe weather outlooks, and real-time radar imagery to stay informed about potential threats.
            • Storm Prediction Center ( The SPC is your go-to source for convective outlooks, mesoscale discussions, and watches for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. These resources offer valuable insights into the potential for severe weather and the areas at highest risk.
            • National Hurricane Center ( For those chasing tropical cyclones, the NHC is indispensable. Get the latest hurricane forecasts, tracks, and potential impacts, ensuring you’re well-prepared during hurricane season.

            Radar and Satellite Imagery:

            • College of DuPage NEXLAB ( NEXLAB grants access to real-time and archived weather radar data, including super-resolution imagery and storm-tracking tools. Dive deeper into storm structure and evolution with this comprehensive resource.
            • RadarScope ( A favorite among chasers, RadarScope provides real-time radar data with advanced features. Track storm cells, analyze velocity data, and utilize hail detection algorithms to gain a comprehensive understanding of storm dynamics.

            Weather Models and Forecasting Tools:

            • Pivotal Weather ( Access a suite of weather models, including the GFS and NAM, along with analysis tools and forecast discussions. Pivotal Weather helps you understand the broader atmospheric patterns influencing storm development.
            • WeatherBell Analytics ( Explore a variety of weather models, forecast maps, and analysis tools, with premium options for more in-depth forecasts. WeatherBell provides insights into the synoptic-scale setup conducive to severe weather.

            Mobile Apps:

            • Predict Now (iOS): The ultimate app for serious weather enthusiasts and chasers. Predict Now provides access to:
            • High-resolution radar data
            • NSSL WRF and HRRR weather models
            • GOES-16 satellite imagery
            • Mesoanalysis tools
            • NCEP surface fronts and analysis
            • NAM 3km model data
            • SPC outlooks and mesoanalysis
            • Surface observations
            • Forecast soundings

            Community and Educational Resources:

            • Stormtrack Website and Forum ( Access a wealth of information, discussions, and forecasts from experienced chasers and meteorologists. The Stormtrack forum is a valuable platform for learning and sharing knowledge about severe weather.
            • Facebook Groups: Numerous Facebook groups dedicated to storm chasing and weather offer opportunities to connect with other enthusiasts, share observations, and learn from the experiences of others.

            Additional Resources:

            • Spotter Network ( This platform allows you to share and access real-time storm reports from trained spotters, providing valuable ground truth information during a chase.

            The El Reno Tornado: A Colossus on the Oklahoma Plains – May 31, 2013

            The late afternoon of May 31, 2013, witnessed the birth of a meteorological monster on the open plains west of Oklahoma City – the El Reno tornado. This colossal twister, eventually reaching a staggering 2.6 miles wide, etched its name in history as the widest tornado ever recorded. Its immense size and erratic behavior posed a significant challenge for storm chasers and researchers, ultimately claiming the lives of three experienced storm chasers who were caught in its unpredictable path.

            The day began with a heightened sense of awareness among meteorologists and storm chasers. The Storm Prediction Center had issued a high-risk warning for severe weather, highlighting the potential for strong, long-track tornadoes across central Oklahoma. As the afternoon progressed, supercell thunderstorms began to develop, their towering structures visible from miles away. Among these storms, one particular supercell exhibited ominous signs of rotation and quickly became the focus of attention.

            At approximately 6:03 pm, the El Reno tornado touched down, initially as a relatively narrow funnel. However, it rapidly intensified and expanded, growing wider and wider as it churned across the open landscape. The tornado’s erratic movements and multiple vortices made it difficult to track and predict, posing a significant danger to those in its path.

            Caught in the Colossus: Stories of Impact and Loss

            The El Reno tornado’s unpredictable nature and immense size had a profound impact on those who encountered it, including experienced storm chasers and researchers who dedicated their lives to understanding these powerful storms.

            • TWISTEX Team: The TWISTEX (Tactical Weather Instrumented Sampling in/near Tornadoes Experiment) team, a group of researchers studying tornadoes, was caught in the path of the El Reno tornado. Their vehicle was tossed by the tornado’s winds, resulting in injuries to several team members and tragically claiming the life of renowned storm chaser Tim Samaras, his son Paul Samaras, and fellow chaser Carl Young.
            • Other Storm Chasers: Several other storm chasers had close encounters with the El Reno tornado, capturing dramatic footage of the twister’s immense size and erratic movements. Many experienced the dangers of chasing such a large and unpredictable tornado firsthand, highlighting the risks associated with this activity.
            • Record-Breaking Width: At its peak, the El Reno tornado reached a staggering width of 2.6 miles, making it the widest tornado ever recorded. This immense size is attributed to the presence of multiple vortices within the parent circulation, effectively creating a massive wedge tornado with a broad damage path. The sheer width of the tornado made it difficult to perceive its full extent from the ground, leading to challenges in tracking and warning for its path.
            • Fluctuating Intensity: The El Reno tornado exhibited rapid fluctuations in intensity, ranging from EF3 to EF5 on the Enhanced Fujita scale. This variation in strength is a characteristic of many large tornadoes and is influenced by the complex dynamics of the storm’s updraft and the inflow of air feeding the tornado. The tornado’s multiple vortices also likely contributed to its fluctuating intensity, as each subvortex could possess varying degrees of strength.
            • Damage Indicators: Despite its immense size and fluctuating intensity, the El Reno tornado’s damage path was primarily rated EF3. This is because the tornado traversed mostly rural areas with few structures to serve as damage indicators. However, the few structures that were impacted sustained significant damage, indicative of the tornado’s potential for greater destruction had it tracked through a more densely populated area.
            • Reed Timmer and the Dominator Team: Veteran storm chaser Reed Timmer and his Dominator team were in close proximity to the El Reno tornado, capturing dramatic footage of its rapid expansion and erratic movements. They experienced the tornado’s powerful winds firsthand as their armored vehicle, the Dominator, was buffeted and pushed off the road. Timmer described the experience as “the most intense moment of my storm chasing career,” highlighting the sheer power and danger of the El Reno tornado.
            • Mike Bettes and The Weather Channel Team: The Weather Channel team, led by meteorologist Mike Bettes, was also chasing the El Reno tornado. Their SUV was caught in one of the tornado’s subvortices and thrown 200 yards, resulting in injuries to the team members. Bettes later recounted the experience as a “life-changing event” that underscored the unpredictable nature of tornadoes and the importance of safety precautions when chasing storms.

            Forecasting Tornadoes and Severe Storms With Modern Technology

            Tornadoes, with their raw power and unpredictable nature, have long captivated and terrified people. While the science of forecasting these violent storms has progressed significantly, predicting their exact location and timing remains a complex challenge. However, thanks to advancements in technology, data analysis, and a deeper understanding of atmospheric dynamics, we can now decipher the skies with greater accuracy, providing crucial information to keep communities safe.

            The Building Blocks of Severe Weather:

            To understand tornado formation, we must first explore the ingredients that brew severe thunderstorms, their birthplace.

            • Instability: The atmosphere needs to be unstable, meaning the air near the ground is warmer and more humid than the air aloft. This temperature difference creates rising air parcels, the building blocks of thunderstorms.
            • Lift: Something needs to initiate the upward movement of air, such as a frontal boundary, a dryline, or even the heating of the ground on a sunny day.
            • Moisture: Ample moisture is necessary to fuel the development of clouds and precipitation within the thunderstorm.
            • Wind Shear: This refers to the change in wind speed and direction with height. Wind shear is crucial for creating rotation within the storm, a key ingredient for tornado formation.

            Identifying the Threats:

            Meteorologists rely on a variety of tools to identify and track potential severe weather:

            • Doppler Radar: This technology detects precipitation and wind movement within a storm. By analyzing the radar data, meteorologists can identify areas of rotation, known as mesocyclones, which are often precursors to tornadoes. Apps like Tornado Vision utilize radar data to provide users with a visual representation of storm rotation and the potential for tornado development.
            • Satellite Imagery: Satellites provide a broader perspective of weather systems, allowing meteorologists to track storm development, movement, and intensity.
            • Surface Observations: Data from weather stations on the ground, including temperature, humidity, wind speed, and barometric pressure, provide valuable insights into local atmospheric conditions.
            • Weather Models: Complex computer models simulate atmospheric processes to predict future weather conditions. While not perfect, these models have become increasingly sophisticated and provide valuable guidance to forecasters.

            Advanced Tools for Enhanced Awareness:

            Innovative apps like Predict Now, Hail No!, and Tornado Vision empower individuals with real-time data and storm tracking capabilities:

            • Predict Now: Provides users with comprehensive weather information, including forecasts, radar imagery, and severe weather alerts, allowing them to stay informed about potential threats in their area.
            • Hail No!: Utilizes a specialized hail detection algorithm to display hail locations and sizes in real-time, offering customizable alerts based on hail size and proximity to a user’s location. This app is particularly valuable for individuals in hail-prone areas or those who work outdoors.
            • Tornado Vision: Leverages the power of augmented reality to visualize potential tornadoes within storms. By pointing their phone at a storm, users can see an overlay of data, including the chance of a tornado, hail size, wind speed, and other critical storm characteristics. This innovative technology helps users make informed decisions about their safety during severe weather events.

            The Importance of Preparedness:

            While forecasting technology continues to improve, tornadoes can still strike with little warning. Preparedness is key to ensuring safety:

            • Stay Informed: Monitor weather forecasts and warnings from reliable sources.
            • Have a Plan: Develop a family emergency plan that includes a designated shelter location, communication protocols, and emergency supplies.
            • Practice Drills: Regularly practice tornado drills so everyone knows what to do and where to go in case of a tornado warning.

            By understanding the science behind tornadoes and severe storms, utilizing advanced technology and tools like weather apps, and taking proactive steps toward preparedness, we can better navigate the unpredictable nature of these powerful events and protect ourselves and our communities.